Adapt or Die

By Deane Barker on October 16, 2006

Copyright protected physical space: Cory Doctorow has written a very short (four paragraphs) explanation of why copyrights start to get fuzzy in the world of new technology.

Cory points out the absurdity of a photography kiosk at a county fair putting out a sign claiming that there are no cameras allowed because “this is a copyright-protected area.” His point is that people scream “copyright” way too much, but I found an even bigger point.

In short, this paragraph sums it all up for me.

Any businessperson has to contend with the realities of the world. Blacksmiths don’t get to demand that we abandon the railroad and go back to riding horses they can shoe. Maybe it was once possible to take a studio photography business (where you could control who came in and hence set the rules about taking your own pictures) on the road with a county fair. But if your business depends on ensuring that your photons only enter the lens of your camera, then putting those photons in a public place is a bad idea.

And that’s the truth of it. The ability to digitize content has really changed the nature of it. Unlike before, there is no physical barrier to reproduction. You can re-produce digital content all you want with no expense. That’s an example of technology fundamentally changing the rules, and you either adapt or eventually die.

Big Media has had some success suing people like crazy, but how long do you think that’s going to last? File sharing has been around for — what? — six years? Big Media has an advantage now, but do you really think they can keep that for the next 10 years? The next 100? You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube.

They’d do well to try and figure out how business is going to look in the future. It could be that the idea of intellectual property in general is simply doomed, and we need to figure out how we’re all going to do business without it. That seems crazy, but revolutionary changes make what seems crazy become reality, and then where do you go?

Gadgetopia

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